‘Womanifesto’, Sisaket, Thailand (13–15 November, 2008)
‘Asiatopia’, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Thailand (31 October–30 November, 2008)
‘We do political work when we are compelled to react to events. In some way you become political when you don't have a chance to be poetic. I think human beings would much prefer to be poetic… to have peace, to enjoy life, to have good food, good sex, good wine, good friends and pleasure. Maybe this will never be possible... Maybe we have a need to know the truth.’ Cildo Meireles.
At first glance, it is a stark realisation that there are seemingly few Thai artists who have created political work in the past few years, when virtually every aspects of life in Thailand has been drowning in a political quagmire. However, one has to concede that this non-engaging gesture is, in itself, a valid and telling political statement.
In November of last year two main art events in Thailand—‘Womanifesto’ Artists’ Residency and ‘Asiatopia’ Performing Arts Festival—helped to illustrate this point. Amidst violent protests and the closure of Bangkok international airport, it became clear that the majority of artists and art professionals prefer to take a more understated and disengaged path to one of direct confrontation.
Thus, contrary to Meireles’ above observation, perhaps Thai artists have chosen to resist the search for truth because that truth is just too painful. Art seems to provide a way for them to leave this dysfunctional political and social landscape behind and offer, once again, a chance to be poetic.
- Sun, 1 Feb 2009